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Released: 3/7/2008 

PATCO Customers Riding with FREEDOM

PATCO launches state- of- the- art fare collection system at all of its stations

PATCO unveiled its new Automated Fare Collection (AFC) system with a “ticket-cutting” ceremony at the Woodcrest Station, where a string of old fare cards was cut to symbolize the new era of “smart travel” via the FREEDOM smart card. PATCO’s new system, the newest, smartest smart card system in the U.S. allows riders to touch the FREEDOM Card to the fare gates and go.

“This represents the first step in the region towards seamless travel for public transit users,” said John Estey, Delaware River Port Authority Chairman Designee. “We look forward to partnering with SEPTA and NJTransit as the region embraces new fare technology and moves towards fare media compatibility.”

“The FREEDOM Card makes traveling on PATCO easier and more convenient for our customers. Similar to E-Z Pass, customers who choose autoload never stop to re-load their cards,” said Jeff Nash, Delaware River Port Authority Vice Chairman.

The FREEDOM Card can be purchased at the new automated vending machines which accept cash, and credit and debit cards. The new machines are located at each of the 13 PATCO stations along the 14.2 mile line through Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia. In addition to the smart card, riders are also able to purchase single-ride and roundtrip tickets from the new vending machines.

Features of the system include balance protection in case of loss or theft and autoload, which automatically adds value onto the smart card at the gate, offering the ultimate convenience of never having to stop to replenish the card. By this summer, commuters will also be able to use the FREEDOM card to pay for parking at PATCO’s gated parking facilities; making it the first contactless smart card system that covers both transit and ancillary parking.

“PATCO was ahead of its time 40 years ago when we led the nation in adopting the first automated fare collection system that used magnetic cards. We are to continue that tradition of leadership with this new and innovative smart card system,” said John J. Matheussen, PATCO President. “No longer will riders have to hunt for change in the morning to pay for their fare. The fare is deducted automatically from the FREEDOM Card.”

The technology used to create the FREEDOM Card utilizes an embedded chip that carries more information than the magnetic stripe on old fare cards. The system, developed by Cubic Corporation, is one of the first to be compliant with the Regional Interoperability Standard for Electronic Transit Fare Payments which was developed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and adopted by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) as the national Contactless Fare Media Standard.

“PATCO is committed to having a fully compatible regional system that will allow riders to get to their destination seamlessly without having to manage differing fare collection systems,” said PATCO General Manager, Robert Box. “The FREEDOM fare collection system is designed to be open and interoperable with other systems and has the capability with some modifications to accept bankcards.”

The Cubic technology for the card has been used successfully in many large transit systems in the United States and around the world, most notably Great Britain, where an “Oyster Card” has been used for fare collection for Transport for London.

In addition to PATCO, the Delaware River Port Authority owns and operates the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross bridges, the Philadelphia Cruise Terminal and the RiverLink Ferry.

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